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Archive for Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Paine

July 15, 2009

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To the editor:

In my earlier letter I did not say that Thomas Paine was a Christian. Early in his life he was a member of an organized Christian group (Church of God, I believe) and moved gradually away from that so that by the end of his life he had declared he was a deist in the “Age of Reason.” As far as I remember, he had not declared himself a deist at the time of the revolution and had written on several issues within the Christian community. I think that many if not most of his writings were influenced by his early association with Christianity.

As an example, in his discourse on “The Study Of God,” Paine said, “It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.” (You really ought to read the whole speech.)

This is very much in line with Christian thinking and is the example I was thinking of when I made my original statement.

Miller is from Lawrence

Comments

Larry Miller 4 years, 9 months ago

  1. the original statement was that the "founding fathers" were deists.
  2. I have demonstrated that that was not true.
  3. Then the discussion over Paine. I have demonstrated that he did put forth views that were the same as a Christian point of view.
  4. Paine was not a publicly proclaimed deist at the time we were discussing. His "Age of Reason" lost him any support in America.

I think the WallBuilders is a response to various groups who are pushing their beliefs on Christians. An example: Forcing the Catholic Church to hire people who believe in abortion.

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Bruce Springsteen 4 years, 9 months ago

devobrun: "Overwrought maybe, Mr. Paine?"

Perhaps, but are you making the case that it is overwrought based on a familiarity with the extent and influence of this Christian Nation movement, or do you just reflexively dismiss concerns about growing, misplaced power that seeks to marginalize and disenfranchise large categories of people -- in this case nonbelievers, non-Christians, and doctrinally incorrect Christians? Would you be similarly blase about an ad promoting the view that women or black were not meant to be the dominant group in the founders' thinking, and that we should remember that "heritage" and support it today? Would the Journal-World run such an ad?

You say you are interested in the principle of freedom, above all, but apparently show no interest in a movement that seeks to impose its values on nonbelievers like you and me, and define by biblical standards what your freedom means. Inconsistent maybe, Mr. Devobrun, or just too indifferent to dig into the matter and come to an informed conclusion for yourself, before suggesting I'm overwrought? I recognize lazy argument, certainly, and an effort to ho-hum away anything you aren't already inclined to pay attention to.

"What about environmental dominionism? For the same reason Al Gore can legally raise $300 million to promote global warming scares and environmentalist remedies, Hobby lobby can raise a few tens of thousands of bucks and run some adds in the paper regarding their view of principles of the founders."

Ah, now I see you want to drag in an unrelated hobby horse of your own, and add to the tangential tack this topic has taken under Miller's confused gyrations. Now who is overwrought. I at least am familiar with Gore's arguments and agenda. Can you say the same about WallBuilders? You haven't indicated.

"Don't agree with one or the other? Raise your own money and run your own ad."

Excuse me -- how is that better than writing, say, an LTE or forming an organization to counter views you oppose, or simply calling out the true agenda of Hobby Lobby in whatever forum you can? Is a paid ad somehow the price of admission now for participation the public discourse? Your point with this remark is impossible to discern.

The rest of your comments digress into an incoherent, quasi-libertarian, ramble with no apparent direction or point, but as near as I can tell your views are:

Lying? Sure everyone does it -- join the fun!

Getting a screwing from people with millions or billions to throw around? Well, go out and get your own millions to buy a seat at the table and quit yer whining, pansy-boy!

Is this about right, Mr. Devobrun? Is "cynical indifference" a fair summary of your argument?

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BrianR 4 years, 9 months ago

There are still misfits out there who believe the Earth is an orb when, in fact, anyone who knows anything can tell you, the Earth is flat.

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supertrampofkansas 4 years, 9 months ago

After reading both of Mr. Miller's letters, I still can't figure what it is he wants to say? Can you shed any light on this Larry? It is quite clear to me that you can find contradicting quotes for everyone and even put them on a timeline. But who cares. What is your point Larry?

I don't have any qualms with the idea that this nation was founded by Christians. Heck, is not any stretch of the imagination to think that everybody coming from Western Europe back then was a Christian by default. But again who cares?

I agree with Devo. This is simply about political power. Everything else is smokescreen.

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logicsound09 4 years, 9 months ago

Why is the LJWorld making their paper this guy's personal soapbox.

"Er, ah, to clarify my LTE from earlier in the week...."

I hope this isn't the cream of the crop of LTE submissions the LJWorld has received this week.

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devobrun 4 years, 9 months ago

Thomas Paine:

"Christian Nationalist view of America, a view which is counter to the most basic principles of freedom, equality, and secular government which emerged at the founding of our country."

"dominionist propaganda organization WallBuilders, are meant to spread this mythology of Christian supremacy in our political life"

Overwrought maybe, Mr. Paine?

What about environmental dominionism?

For the same reason Al Gore can legally raise $300 million to promote global warming scares and environmentalist remedies, Hobby lobby can raise a few tens of thousands of bucks and run some adds in the paper regarding their view of principles of the founders.

Don't agree with one or the other? Raise your own money and run your own ad.

Think that they are spreading falsehoods? Join the club. We live in a world of constant marketing, sales, propaganda, influence, nuance, witness, overt yelling and screaming, falsehoods,....... Hi I'm Billy Mays!!!!

Like I've said in other posts, liberty was the interest of the day of Thomas Paine. You know, like the freedom to buy an ad in the LJW.

Today, the interest is political power. Power for Christians and social contructivists alike. Your argument with Mr. Miller is whether the Founders were Christians and whether they wrote the Dec of Ind and the Constitution and other documents from a perspective of Christianity or not.

Yet, the laws of this country are predominantly written by secular lawyers to collect taxes, and regulate transportation, business, etc. There are very few laws that would be deemed "Christian" laws. Yet, the government continues to expand its influence on our lives.

Tax code: Byzantine Health Care: Amazingly complex and proscriptive Environmental Law: Indecipherable to small and medium size business

It is guaranteed that everyone in this country is breaking a law on a regular basis.
I don't fear the Christians, even though I am not one. I fear the people who want to control me, regardless of their philosophy. This should trouble all of us, but doesn't.

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Bruce Springsteen 4 years, 9 months ago

All of your observations touch on interesting questions, but the problem is they veer distractingly away from the important point where this entire letter exchange began.

Hobby Lobby, a very successful chain of craft supply and decorative item stores, is run by a conservative evangelical family that uses their money and connections to help spread what is called a Christian Nationalist view of America, a view which is counter to the most basic principles of freedom, equality, and secular government which emerged at the founding of our country. Their filtered and distorted historical quotes, compiled with the help of the dominionist propaganda organization WallBuilders, are meant to spread this mythology of Christian supremacy in our political life, and their July fourth ad in papers nationwide is a blatant promotion of this bigoted view. This myth of official Christian privilege has become widespread, powerful, and threatens the core of our national life.

If you do not have a clue about WallBuilders, the movement they promote and the role that corporate Christian dominionist stalking horses like Hobby Lobby play in that unAmerican agenda, you should get a clue. Unless you just don't care about the question, as so many in Lawrence and elswhere seem not to do. Certainly any left-leaning person who complains loudly about "the last eight years" needs to wake up and recognize the role that this dangerous mythologized history played in making those eight years possible.

But Christians should worry too, because if "Christian" principles are increasingly shoehorned into the public business, any believer should ask which Christians will be defining and parsing those principles. Christianity is hardly a single, clear, harmonious set of ideas that can be imported into law, without various sects reviving the implacable sectarian battles that plagued the colonies before the revolution, and that the founders were keen to neutralize. Be careful "Christians" what kind of society you try to set in motion, because there is no guarantee that your fellow believers won't decide eventually that you are the enemy, over some small or large matter of doctrine.

As you say, Mr. Miller, read our history. Not WallBuilders' version.

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Larry Miller 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't have a clue on WallBuilders nor do I care.

My point was that at the time, Paine was not yet publicly a deist and was making statements that were very Protestant-like.

After reading your post again I think I have a different view of early America. Probably most influenced by Ben Franklin's writings. It is my opinion that the "founding fathers" did not want a religious test in any way related to any government function. They did think that each individual person should use the morals, ethics, and behavior of a Christian - whether or not they were a believer.

And I don't see that happening much, especially in government, lately.

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Bruce Springsteen 4 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Miller, your purposes become increasingly unclear, as you go further out on tangents to the issue that began all this exchange.

Are you suggesting that Paine's early association with Christianity, a common characteristic of even the most adamant atheists raised in America, somehow overrides his later complete rejection of Christian dogma, and warrants thinking of America as a specially Christian nation, wherein, although everyone is "equal," Christians and their heritage are somehow more equal?

That is the premise of WallBuilders, Hobby Lobby, and the whole Christian dominionist propaganda subculture, which was the driving impetus behind the July 4th ad.

Do you, or do you not, share WallBuilders' view of religious "freedom" in America?

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